Launching a career in impact investing after Bain

Ugo Posada is the Director of Management Consulting at the Social Investment Bank in Colombia. Here, he writes about how his experience working at Bain helped him launch a career in social impact.

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The day I started working as an AC in the London office, I set myself a goal: at some point in my life I would leverage everything I learned at Bain to be a force for good in my home country: Colombia. My rationale was that, after solving tough business problems and working side by side with extremely bright individuals, I would be able to make an impact in Colombia. My country has very high levels of inequality and has experienced internal violence for at least six decades, but it also has incredible human and natural resources that, properly used, could propel the country to a better standard of living.

Five years later, after having worked in London, the Netherlands, Mexico City and Guatemala, and having been sponsored by Bain to get an MBA from Kellogg, an opportunity came up to join the Social Investment Bank. The BIS is a non-profit in Colombia that acts as a bridge between (a) the increasing amount of available funds targeted at generating social impact (e.g. philanthropic, impact, foundational, corporate, PE/VC); and (b) companies/projects engaged in the social sector (e.g. agriculture, education, healthcare, housing).

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I jumped at the opportunity for several reasons. First, it was a chance to join the leadership team of a firm that believed that business solutions to social problems were not only possible, but necessary. Furthermore, it was an opportunity to return to my country to work with Luis, the bank’s founder and a serial social entrepreneur behind six ventures, and with Alejandro, a fellow Bainie (NYC ’03) with a passion for sustainable impact investment models. Finally, the prospect of building up a firm that could have a catalyzing impact in my country’s development was too good to turn down, and so I embarked on this new adventure.

Six months into the challenge, I must admit that this experience has been the best of both worlds. On the one hand, I get to fully leverage the Bain toolkit in helping our clients increase their social impact. At the same time, I get to match the skills and knowledge I developed at Bain with our clients’ field work in social issues, which has been truly fulfilling. Also, the results we have achieved in such little time prove that applying a business mindset to increase the scale and impact of social solutions actually works.

A BIS project site in Colombia

A BIS project site in Colombia

We are involved in multiple truly inspirational and transformational engagements, such as:

– Defining a business model for a charter school that aims to provide affordable high-quality bilingual education to the bulk of the Colombian population
– Developing strategic options for an organization that specializes in bringing peace to rural Colombia by increasing the ability of small farmers to become “rural entrepreneurs”
– Devising a framework to develop public-private partnerships for education
– Structuring an investment promotion agency for Chocó, one of the most impoverished regions in the Colombian Pacific region (despite having some of the highest biodiversity in the world)

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A BIS project site in Colombia

Going forward, our goal is to strengthen the firm and continue to support the success of both social investors (helping them find scalable and transformational business opportunities) and of social projects/companies (helping them find innovative/sophisticated ways to do good in a way that appeals to capital providers). This is the start of a very exciting road, which hopefully will have a positive large scale impact in Colombia, and one that that I wouldn’t have had the chance or courage to start without the skills I built over the years working at Bain.

-Ugo

3 Responses to Launching a career in impact investing after Bain

  1. The fact that the most capable minds of our time start working towards reducing the inequality gap in our countries is very inspiring. I am 28 years old now (also colombian), and I am as well trying to get a job in consulting to try to learn from the private sector and in a couple of years apply it on the public and non-profit organizations. This has inspired me even more. Congratulations for your work!

  2. Ugo, I too am throughly impressed with your approach and development garnered from your tenure at Bain & Company. Look at your accomplishments and the “good” you are providing for your country. Bain represents strategic development but appears to encourage employees’ to take that knowledge, their formula, and share in business formations, causes, dear to one’s heart! This is true leadership!

    I am a graduate student, in the States, and seeking either an internship, employment or both with Bain & Company. My objective is somewhat like that of yours, excel and give back during my time with Bain, while learning from some of the most talented groups of consultants, etc., At year five I anticipate establishing my own organization for Corporate Social Responsibility Consulting provide social impact, and awareness, for those within Liberia, Africa.

    My heart’s desire is to create schools where children and adults can learn trades, access academic skills needed to attend colleges and universities, establish ways to create businesses, provide healthcare, clean water, electricity, work alongside the government so they can and will actually use laws already on the books to punish the perpetrators of crimes against women and children…

    Ugo I can go on and on as to my interests’ and love for Liberia and her people!

    You have inspired me to keep pressing for an opportunity with Bain & Company. I will not give up!

    Taylor H.

  3. The fact that the most capable minds of our time start working towards reducing the inequality gap in our countries is very inspiring. I am 28 years old now (also colombian), and I am as well trying to get a job in consulting to try to learn from the private sector and in a couple of years apply it on the public and non-profit organizations. This has inspired me even more. Congratulations for your work!

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